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computer-screen 5 pillars
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 6, 2015

Unveiling the Five Pillars of Energy Democracy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/unveiling-pillars-energy-democracy/

Exciting changes are on the horizon for our century-old utility structure as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicles open new avenues for utility customers to produce their own power and control their energy use. Utilities are scrambling to remain relevant in this technological firestorm, and energy wonks are envisioning a new business model––Utility 2.0––that… Continue reading

rick evans and john farrell debate value of solar MNSEIA conference Nov 2014
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 30, 2015

Utility and Advocate Debate Value of Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/utility-advocate-debate-solar/

At a Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association conference in November 2014, ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell tilted with Xcel Energy’s Rick Evans about the state’s dormant value of solar policy and whether it was likely to be adopted in the near future. Watch the 68-minute video to see the two address a variety… Continue reading

luxury tax monopoly - flickr Philip Taylor
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Jan 9, 2015

Electricity’s Un-Natural Monopoly

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/electricitys-unnatural-monopoly/

The U.S. electricity system is undergoing the biggest change in its 130-year history, undermining the rationale for monopoly ownership and control. Until recently, electricity service was similar to water or roads, where a natural monopoly was most efficient. Only a single, standardized electric grid was needed to connect each building. Technology options were limited to… Continue reading

rooftop solar LA - Mike Spasoff flickr
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 5 Comments | Updated on Oct 21, 2014

We Have “Value for Solar,” but Should We Use It?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/value-of-solar-use-it/

Earlier this year, Minnesota became the first state to formalize dozens of studies by adopting a “value of solar” formula that would fundamentally change the relationship between solar energy producers and their utility. It’s designed to have the utility accurately compensate solar energy producers for the value of solar electricity to the utility, its customers,… Continue reading

residential solar and power plant capacity 2013.003
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 16, 2014

2 Charts Show Solar’s Jump to Top Spot for New U.S. Power Generation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/2-charts-show-solars-jump-top-spot-u-s-power-generation/

Want proof that distributed solar is rapidly growing?  Look no further than these two charts, showing how solar provided over a quarter of new power plant capacity in 2013 (6% from residential solar alone!) and 43% in the first half of this year! This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on… Continue reading

grassroots -  Daniel Schroeder flickr
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Sep 19, 2014

Solar and the New (democratic) Energy Economy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/solar-new-energy-economy/

I spent three days this week with some of the biggest minds behind the “new economy” movement because their core theme – economic democracy – fits like a glove over ILSR’s work on democratic energy. The big takeaway? Solar power is the spark to energize a new energy economy from the bottom up. This new… Continue reading

trojan nuclear power plant - flickr tobin
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 8 Comments | Updated on Sep 11, 2014

Minnesota Nuclear Plant Cost Overruns Show Shortcomings of Large Scale Power Generation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/minnesota-nuclear-plant-cost-overruns-highlight-risk-centralized-climate-solutions/

With the rich history of cost overruns in the nuclear industry, Xcel Energy and Minnesota regulators probably shouldn’t have been surprised when the retrofit cost to the Monticello nuclear power plant ballooned to more than twice the original estimate late last year. Regulators are asking tough questions about whether the cost overruns are the responsibility… Continue reading

courtroom - flickr  Clyde Robinson
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Aug 7, 2014

Can PUCs Lead on Distributed Renewable Energy?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/pucs-lead-distributed-renewable-energy/

If you’re like most renewable energy advocates that have interacted with a Public Utilities Commission, you probably don’t think they’re a repository of progressive policy toward distributed renewable energy.  In general, you’re right. But it’s worth sharing a few, promising examples of Public Utilities Commissions around the U.S. that are actually making things better for… Continue reading

solar and flag - flickr Deval Patrick
Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jul 2, 2014

Celebrate Independence with 3 Steps Toward Energy Self-Reliance

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/celebrate-independence-3-steps-energy-self-reliance/

Being from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, I’m often asked, “You want everyone off-grid and independent with their own solar array and a battery, right?” In a word, no. But our mission of economic and energy self-reliance has several similarities to the kind of (economic) independence being sought by England’s American colonists in the 1770s and… Continue reading

solar panel and smiling people - USAID flickr
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Jun 16, 2014

Forget Utility 2.0, Let’s Talk Energy Ownership 2.0

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/forget-utility-2-0-talk-energy-ownership-2-0/

The transformation taking place in the electricity system is enormous, but twofold. But most commentators – including the former FERC chair – miss half the opportunity when they fixate on the inevitable technological rather than the more fundamental economic transformation. The 20th century electric grid was characterized by two centralized components. The technology of power… Continue reading